I am not quite as vexed by the writings of former Living Marxism (a bit of an oxymoron, Ed) writers such as Brendan O’Neill, Mick Hume or Claire Fox as Stephen Pollard is – life is too short for such intellectual eye-gouging – but I kind of get Stephen’s general point. Those of us who have toiled away exposing the idiocies of Big Government for decades and plugging the case for free markets, etc, find it a bit hard to take for a bunch of Marxists to claim to be such libertarian souls, when in fact they are just as hostile to the market economy as they ever were. No-one has ever proved to me that you can have a liberal, open society without property rights. O’Neill, writing in this week’s edition of The Spectator, rather confirms Pollard’s suspicions in what was quite good rant against modern “anti-capitalists”:
Of course, Marx wanted to destroy capitalism because he thought it didn’t go far enough in remaking the world in man’s image and organising society according to man’s needs and desire. Today’s sorry excuses for Marxists and anti-capitalists think capitalism has gone too far in its development of the forces of production and encouragement of consumerism. I’m with Marx. Let’s replace capitalism with something even more dazzlingly cocky and human-centric. But let’s first deal with the luddites, locavores and eco-feudalists who have given anti-capitalism a bad name.
The problem, of course, is that the “dazzlingly cocky and human-centric” shiny sort of Marxist future is never spelled out. What would it look like? Does it come with a tester? Are there examples on eBay? Seriously, given the manifold failures of state central planning, and the various incoherent attempts by some thinkers to fashion “market socialism” (another oxymoron), it is not really quite good enough for a chap like O’Neill to pose as some sort of hip and clever critic of anti-capitalists, then to claim that he is still a Marxist, but then to leave a bloody great black hole of explanation of what his sort of society would look like. Consider, the various theories associated with Marx have been more or less destroyed, both by practical experience and logical argument: the labour theory of value (which ignores the value of ideas in wealth creation); the theory of the inevitable clash between the “workers” and the “bosses”; the historical “inevitability” of the collapse of capitalism, the immiseration of the proletariat, etc. While some of Marx’s arguments about class had some interesting points, pretty much all of the central tenets of the Bearded One’s ideas are plain wrong. I mean, as intellectual defeats go, this is the equivalent of a village pub football team being annihilated 10-nil by Manchester Utd. There’s no way back.